Prior to the premiere of WE tv’s Sex Box, the admittedly pretty tame and boring reality show wherein couples have sex in a box as a form of therapy, the Parents Television Council launched a national petition against the series. The petition demanded that Sex Box be removed from the American TV lineup and that the signees “do not support such outrageous, disgraceful content on television.” Obviously, it didn’t work — though it did result in a pretty great response from WE tv.
This wasn’t the first time the PTC tried to “inform” the masses about the depraved, offensive, sex-filled, expletive-laden horrors of pop culture. It’s literally all they do. Seriously, you can lose a whole afternoon clicking around the site to read their detailed warnings. Here are ten of the PTC’s most absurd complaints, from Gossip Girl to Glee to Scandal.
2008: Two and a Half Men
No one is claiming that Two and a Half Men was a beacon of morality, or even a watchable sitcom, but the fact that the PTC regularly went after it was always pretty funny. In 2008, the PTC filed an indecency complaint about the show because one episode “included a strip club scene that lasts three full minutes and features up close shots of a leading character being ‘serviced’ by a stripper complete with moaning and other sexual references. The scene was in no way ‘fleeting’ or accidental; rather, it was specifically written into this scripted program.” As opposed to all the sitcom scenes that get accidentally written, shot, and edited?
2009: Gossip Girl‘s Threesome
One of the most well-known PTC complaints was against popular target Gossip Girl, and specifically an episode that featured a (pretty boring!) threesome between Dan, Vanessa, and Olivia (Hilary Duff). The council asked affiliates, “Will you now be complicit in establishing a precedent and expectation that teenagers should engage in behaviors heretofore associated primarily with adult films?
2010: CBS’ S#*! My Dad Says
The PTC asked 300 advertisers to withhold sponsorship of the sitcom because of its title: “The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use; yet CBS decided to use the ‘s-word’ in the title of this show, putting its blatant contempt for children and families front and center.” The PTC went on to urge advertisers to “choose not to associate their products and services with excrement.”
2010: Glee‘s Britney Spears Episode
A Season 2 tribute episode to Britney Spears was named the “Worst TV Show of the Week” by the PTC. Here are a few phrases that capture their complaints: “skimpy outfits,” “seductively dances,” “sultry grinds,” “girl-girl bumping and grinding,” and “school-sanctioned burlesque.” The PTC even condemned Britney Spears herself, commenting, “Considering her stints in rehab, her very public breakdowns, and her questionable parenting skills, there is absolutely no way Spears should be considered a role model.”
2010: GQ‘s Glee photo spread
Shortly after, the PTC took aim once again at Glee: “It is disturbing that GQ, which is explicitly written for adult men, is sexualizing the actresses who play high school-aged characters on ‘Glee’ in this way. It borders on pedophilia.”
2011: MTV’s Skins
American Skins was a nightmare for fans of the UK series, but even more so for the PTC, who dubbed it a “tawdry excuse to show teenagers in highly eroticized scenarios, drinking, using drugs, breaking the law.” The Council even urged citizens to contact their states’ attorneys general to ask for an investigation into the series, claiming it violated child pornography laws.
2012: Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance
A release issued shortly after the VMAs raged, “MTV has once again succeeded in marketing sexually charged messages to young children using former child stars and condom commercials.” The PTC went on to say the network “continues to sexually exploit young women by promoting acts that incorporate ‘twerking’ in a nude-colored bikini.” Outside of Miley, the PTC took issue with a condom commercial that aired during the first break.
After the 2014 episode “Flesh and Blood,” the PTC updated their site to say that “Scandal constantly makes light of sexual promiscuity and tries to normalize murder under the protection of the U.S. government. For allowing sexuality and death to be the overwhelming theme of the show, ABC’s Scandal is undoubtedly the Worst TV Show of the Week”
2014: Gang Related
The PTC took issue with a drama titled Gang Related because its portrayed “gang-related crime.”
2014: New Girl
The “Micro” episode of New Girl was deemed the “undisputed Worst TV Show of the Week” due to its “references to breast size and penis size, with plenty of sexual innuendo.” If you didn’t see the episode, no worries: The PTC site provides a very, very long transcript.